5 minutes with… Nick Bland, Ocorian
The Drawdown (TDD): You recently joined Ocorian from Deutsche Bank. Can you describe your time there and what prompted the move?
Nick Bland (NB): I’d started at Deutsche Bank (DB) as a part-qualified accountant in finance and wanted to learn more about banking products on the front office side before I jumped over to the business side. I was really attracted to it because I didn’t just want to be an accountant.
After qualifying in 2003, I moved out of finance into DB’s corporate trust business, working up through the ranks until I ran the EMEA structured credit client services team between 2013-2017. During this period I adapted the corporate trust offering to what was termed CLO 2.0 - where complexity was removed: no pricey hedging, more rigid cash trapping structures and the like.
At the same time, DB was building its offering in the fund space, with my group acting as a loan servicing middle office because we had the infrastructure to do so. We developed this offering around servicing loans for private debt funds. This became important at DB, especially to leverage technology in our service offering, so I spent time with the tech team building that up.
Finally, I spent the last two years moving DB’s corporate services book over to the Vistra Group. Once I finished this project, I made the decision to look at pastures new and that’s when Alan Booth approached me about joining Ocorian.
TDD: Your role is head of UK client services in London. Can you describe what this entails and what are your key focuses?
NB: I’m responsible for a team of 10 people who cover everything including private clients, corporate services, funds and corporate trust work. There’s a big strategic focus on growing our private funds servicing franchise, as well as the corporate trust side of the business too.
Unlike my role at DB, which entailed two years of shutting a business down, our main focus here is building Ocorian’s business up.
Following our merger earlier this year, we are integrating the Estera business, and the offices in Belfast and the Isle of Man really complement us in London. So we’re very focused on that integration as well as building and scaling the business as a whole.
There’s also a big focus on certain types of services and products emerging. Professional investor fund structures are currently going through legislation and we’re taking the lead to work with all stakeholders across the value spectrum when they are launched next year. That way, we'll be extremely well placed to add this service to our product offering for clients.
TDD: What is your take on the consolidation trend we’re seeing in the fund admin space?
NB: There’s a fast pace of change out there. If I look at our competitors, some have been on a rampant acquisition race. From our perspective, we’re more considered and want to ensure we’re doing the right balance of acquisitive bolt-ons and organic growth.
I think some of our competitors are having to digest and integrate quite a bit. That presents an opportunity to firms like us that we can use to our advantage.
Aggressive pricing is also another factor which does concern me a little, as I saw it happen in the corporate trust space. However, that’s a life cycle matter and how it plays out as we await the tsunami of potential opportunities driven by the current environment, only time will tell.
Clients have to be at the centre of what we do. Adaptability is key, and whilst we don’t run a book where every single thing is bespoke, there’s still a lot of individual focus and attention.